SAN FRANCISCO Gov. Jerry Brown, reflecting on his advanced age and decades-old nickname, said on the 100th day of his third term that he is still the "moonbeam" governor he was before.
"I didn't get that for nothing," Brown told business leaders in San Francisco, where he took his campaign for tax extensions Tuesday. "I worked very hard for it."
Brown, last governor from 1975 to 1983, said the title "implies something different, something unexpected."
The Democratic governor's unorthodox appointments and interest in a state space program years ago caused Chicago columnist Mike Royko to call him "Governor Moonbeam." The label stuck, and Royko later apologized. But in two speeches Tuesday, Brown reveled in it.
"You can't be afraid to be called a moonbeam, weird, deviant, interesting, unexpected," Brown said in Milpitas, where he signed a renewable energy bill.
Brown, 73, is quirky, if not weird.
"Any chance we can turn the lights up so I can see you?" he said when he took the podium to address the Bay Area Council in San Francisco. "It's always a little strange to be speaking to just shadowy figures."
Early in his third term, Brown has charmed lawmakers and observers alike with his accessibility, his lack of entourage and, yes, his pet corgi. The Democratic governor started budget negotiations far earlier than in previous years, and he enacted $11.2 billion in spending cuts.
But Brown has been unable to find the two Republican votes required in each house to put tax extensions on a ballot, and he still doesn't have a deal to close the state's remaining $15.4 billion budget deficit.
Brown remained optimistic Tuesday. He is more focused than he once was, he said.
"When you're a young governor, you're always looking east, you're always looking to the future," Brown said. "But when I ran for this job I said what we need is a governor not with a future, but with a past. Now what I mean by that is I'm not worried about the future, because it's not that long."
Brown wasn't putting a date on it, but he cautioned Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and anyone else who might be "lusting for my position" that his family is long-lived.
"I'm going to be around as long as it takes to get the problem solved," he said.